Cole Hamels

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels throws against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April, 7, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)


Spring training is supposed to be a time of optimism.

Not for the Phillies.

The news on Wednesday - the first day that Philadelphia pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Clearwater - was already troubling.

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Cole Hamels told reporters in Florida he will not be ready when the season starts because of shoulder troubles.

"Don't be alarmed," an optimistic Hamels said during a press conference in Florida. "I feel healthy now."

Telling Phillies fans to stay calm is easier said than done, specially since those fans have seen injuries ravage the team the past two seasons.

Philadelphia did make a move Wednesday to shore up its starting pitching. Several media outlets reported the team signed former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett to a one-year, $16-million deal.

Hamels said he felt discomfort in his shoulder in November when he began his offseason throwing program. Hamels said Phillies team doctor Michael Ciccotti diagnosed him with tendonitis.

"I laid off throwing all of December, and I started picking it up again in January," Hamels said. "Right now I'm in the middle of a throwing program that doesn't allow me to throw bullpens. You won't be seeing me on the mound for the first couple of days (of spring training)."

Hamels said he just needs to build strength and stamina in his shoulder.

"I feel healthy now," he said. "I'm glad we were able to find (the injury) early. Things look good. I see myself pitching in April. I just don't see myself pitching in March."

One of the Phillies strengths this season was suppose to be the top of its pitching rotation, which features Hamels and Cliff Lee.

Burnett boosts the Phillies rotation.

The 37-year-old Burnett was 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts for Pittsburgh last season. Burnett led the National League with 9.8 strikeouts for nine innings.

But Burnett arrives with some questions. He pitched well in Florida, Toronto and Pittsburgh, but struggled in three seasons (2009-11) with the New York Yankees. He was 21-26 in his final two seasons in New York and had an ERA of over 5.00 both years.

Burnett seemed to struggle with pressure that New York fans and media put on players.

The environment in Philadelphia isn't much different.

Contact Michael McGarry:


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Started at The Press in 1993 as an Ocean County reporter. Moved to the copy desk in 1994 until taking over as editor of At The Shore in 1995. Became deputy sports editor in 2004 and was promoted to sports editor in 2007.

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